Season Series: Flyers 5-1-0
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Having one of the most reliable goalies in the history of the NHL plays a huge factor not only in the ability in beating the other team but also it tends to lift up the confidence of the team playing in front of them. For years the New Jersey Devils have relied on Martin Brodeur to do what his does best – be a stonewall in the net and this year is no different. It allows teams to take chances which teams that don’t have a great goaltender can’t. With they being said, they obviously can’t be lazy and make mistakes but when have the New Jersey Devils ever been know as that kind of team. They may not be flashy, and they may not be more most interesting team to watch on television (see Indianapolis Colts) but no one can deny that year after year they have a solid hockey club that can contend for the Cup.
In the last sixteen seasons (since the Wales Conference because the East), the Devils have been in the playoffs all but two years and have seen the Eastern Conference finals fives times and the stanley Cup finals four times (winning three of them – 1994-95′, 1999-00′, and 2002-03′). With that much experience, a solid core of players in Parise, Zajac, Langenbrunner, Elias, and most recently the addition of Ilya Kovalchuk to boast the offence… I expect the Devils to go quite far and possible even face off against Washington in the conference finals. The only thing to be of concern is the Devils started off the season much hotter than they finished it and if they want to contend for the conference championship, they need to find what they were doing early in the season, and do it again.
The Philadelphia Flyers just squeaked into the playoffs with a win in the final game over the New York Rangers to get the #7 seed in the East and play against New Jersey. Without a doubt, the season-ending playoff-clinching victory will give the Flyers a boost but honestly, they have their hands full when the face off against the the Devils. The Flyers have relied all season long on the play Mike Richards, Jeff Carter, Danny Briere and newest addition and big-man on the blue-line Chris Pronger. Richards and Carter lead the way with 60+ points each while Pronger and Briere and in the mid-50’s but they are facing an extremely tough and skilled New Jersey Devils squad. Trying to put up those point averages when you are playing against Brodeur is hard enough but to have to do it for a possible seven-game seasons (especially after the Flyers grueling run to make the playoffs)… I don’t think Philadelphia stands much of a chance.
One thing I will say is I am EXTREMELY happy that Philadelphia won over the Rangers because the last thing I wanted to see was Avery blanketing and pissing off Ovechkin… someone should punch Avery really, really hard in the face. Anyways, there is not much more to say about the Flyers. They did bring in Pronger to help out their defence and paired him up with Matt Carle and gave a decent second pairing of Kimmo Timonen and Lukas Krajicek. The problem lies in the Flyers goaltending, they also picked up Ray Emery and hoped he could get back to they way he once played helping the Senators go to the Stanley Cup. Unfortunately he got injured and Michael Leighton took over and well, the rest is history. The Devils will win, only because you can’t finish off the season having to play every game balls out and still be 100% for the playoffs. New Jersey is healthy other than Andrew Peters who is expected to be back and ready for the playoffs and I expect the Devils to coast through the Flyers.
TheCoach’s Pick: DEVILS in FIVE
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